Journal Article

Apomixis and reticulate evolution in the <i>Asplenium monanthes</i> fern complex

Robert J. Dyer, Vincent Savolainen and Harald Schneider

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 8, pages 1515-1529
Published in print December 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online September 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Apomixis and reticulate evolution in the Asplenium monanthes fern complex

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

Asexual reproduction is a prominent evolutionary process within land plant lineages and especially in ferns. Up to 10 % of the approx. 10 000 fern species are assumed to be obligate asexuals. In the Asplenium monanthes species complex, previous studies identified two triploid, apomictic species. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the phylogenetic relationships in the A. monanthes complex and to investigate the occurrence and evolution of apomixis within this group.


DNA sequences of three plastid markers and one nuclear single copy gene were used for phylogenetic analyses. Reproductive modes were assessed by examining gametophytic and sporophyte development, while polyploidy was inferred from spore measurements.

Key Results

Asplenium monanthes and A. resiliens are confirmed to be apomictic. Asplenium palmeri, A. hallbergii and specimens that are morphologically similar to A. heterochroum are also found to be apomictic. Apomixis is confined to two main clades of taxa related to A. monanthes and A. resiliens, respectively, and is associated with reticulate evolution. Two apomictic A. monanthes lineages, and two putative diploid sexual progenitor species are identified in the A. monanthes clade.


Multiple origins of apomixis are inferred, in both alloploid and autoploid forms, within the A. resiliens and A. monanthes clades.

Keywords: Apomixis; Asplenium monanthes; asexual reproduction; apogamy; diplospory; reticulate evolution; hybridization; polyploidy

Journal Article.  9287 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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